Google wants to make it crystal clear that it’s not a marketplace.
True, people can buy things on Google, but it also lets sellers link out to other marketplaces. On the Modern Retail Podcast, Bill Ready, the company’s president of commerce and payments, discussed this important nuance. “We’re not a retailer, we’re not a marketplace,” he said. In his estimation, Google is about helping shoppers discover products (and sometimes letting them transact with in the platform). While the site looks and feels like a marketplace, he insisted that Google’s utility provides something markedly different.
Google’s shopping capabilities have had quite the evolution. Its offerings have had fits and starts, to say the least. Currently, any merchant can upload products to be listed on Google’s shopping website. They can use Google’s commerce options -- called ‘Buy on Google’ -- or they can link out.
Last year, the company made the decision to make its listings completely free. Before, merchants had to purchase an ad in order to surface on the platform. All these moves, according to Ready, are because of Google’s belief in the open web. But making product listings free also meant more merchants tried out the platform; the company saw 80% more listings in 2020 compared to the year before.
The focus now, according to Ready, is to continue making services and products for merchants and get more brands comfortable with selling on Google. This includes testing out shoppable ad units on YouTube.
Of course, continuing to grow the ad business is also important. And who remains a big advertiser on Google? Amazon. “We partner with retailers of every size, including the largest and you know, Amazon is a partner that we work with quite closely as well,” said Ready. “It can oftentimes be a good storyline to say ‘hey, is this a competitive thing?’ [but] it really is a return to first principles for Google.”